NHDP’s first commitment is to historical monuments that are spread across the Kathmandu Valley. These monuments still play important roles in active social and religious habitats in the old town of Patan. However, many of them are endangered due to the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes, urban transformation, and dramatic demographic changes that come hand in hand with economically and socially changing lifeworlds. The project documents their historical and anthropological ‘biographies’ as well as their current states and uses.
Supported by the charitable fund Arcadia, the project both produces and is founded on expertise in extensive heritage documentation fieldwork in Nepal, data management and the development of DANAM since October 2018. All of its content is available in an open access format and thus for free online. Unique material has been assembled and produced anew through the substantial efforts of the NHDP team and fellow experts/collectors. With more heritage documentation field work underway, the database accommodates a growing number of datasets that are being reviewed by renowned experts and scientific personnel from Nepal, Germany and internationally.
The spirit of sharing and open access carries us forward: as happy as we are to share our own data, we are even further enriched by the spirit with which many researchers and institutions have so kindly shared their (mostly unpublished) historical or other material information related to intangible heritage with us. We are indebted to institutions such as the department of Archaeology (DoA), the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust (KVPT), the Nepal Picture Library, and numerous individual researchers such as Niels Gutschow, Wolfgang Korn, Rajendra Shakya, Nutan Sharma, Ulrich von Schröder and Bruce Owens, to mention but a few.
NETWORK AND PARTNERS
The Nepal Heritage Documentation Project is situated at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies at Heidelberg University and the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. The NHDP’s key partners and representatives in Germany include the Heidelberg University Library and i3mainz - Institute for Spatial Information and Surveying Technology, whilst the project is supported in Nepal by the Department of Archaeology (DoA) of the Government of Nepal and the Saraf Foundation of Himalayan Traditions and Culture. We are also collaborating with the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust (KVPT), UNESCO Nepal, and Kathmandu University (Centre for Art and Design ). The project has brought together a team of professionals across the spectrum of heritage work: from architects and draftsmen, to historians and anthropologists, to specialists in Digital Humanities and IT development. With the help of our network and partners, we hope to continue to reach out to other organisations with an interest in heritage preservation and documentation, as well as to institutions of Higher Education in Nepal, to ensure that the database is used and further sustained.
Extension phase (2020-2026)
The project aims to widen its focus to include the entire Kathmandu Valley and a few selected sites beyond, which connect culturally and historically to the valley. The extension phase will also include monuments from West Nepal that entail art historical, archaeological as well as anthropological documentation. This ranges from memorial stones from 13-14th centuries, medieval stone temples, pavilions, water tanks, fortifications and stūpas. The data published in DANAM will consist of four interlinked databases: a) architectural monument database, b) art database with art objects, c) historical database with inscriptions, and d) anthropological database including intangible heritage.
PILOT PHASE (2018 – 2020)
The ancient city of Patan (Lalitpur) and two unique forms of cultural heritage – Buddhist monastic compounds (bāhī/bāhāh) and arcaded resthouses (phalcā) – have served as the main focus within the pilot phase. They Newar monastic compounds are the centres of what is arguably the world’s oldest continuously practised form of Buddhism, whilst the arcaded rest houses (Nevārī: phalcā), a semi-public ‘architectural genre’, reflect the ritual and social richness of urban Newar heritage.